HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS. US, 2015. Starring Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Stephen Root, Caroline Aaron. Directed by Michael Showalter. 95 minutes. Rated M.
A star vehicle for Sally Field at almost 70. 1946 seems to have been a very good year for the births of Oscar-winning actresses: Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Cher, and Sally Field. These actresses are still prominent in their field, Susan Sarandon at the top of her form in the comedy, The Meddler. And now Sally Field in a comedy that has many quite sad aspects to it.
She plays an older woman who has lived for many years looking after her demanding mother, has lost opportunities for bettering herself in life, allowing her brother to have education and business chances. She is a rather lonely person, although she does have two friends much her own age with whom she can share her thoughts and feelings. She was engaged once but had to stay at home for her mother when the fiance got a job interstate.
She works in an office, putting data into computers. Has she any future?
Than the comic touches come as a young executive arrives at the company and she fantasises about his romantic attentions to her. This becomes an obsession and she begins to stalk him at the office and in creating a false Facebook page, intruding into his life in a cruel way. She has the help of the 13-year-old granddaughter of her close friend, Tyne Daly. She goes to a rock concert, gaudily dressed, because John (Max Greenfield) will be there and gets an opportunity to pose for an album cover .
The film raises the issues of loneliness, compensation before it is too late, the possibility of genuine love between a younger man and an older woman. For John it is something of a shock. For her friends it seems an impossibility. And Doris has to come to terms with her attraction to John and her real life, seeing a psychiatrist, letting go of the past, clearing the family house of accumulated junk.
For a moment this reviewer was deceived by a fantasy scene towards the end of the film – but, then the film asks, is this really fantasy?
The film is very much geared to an older women’s audience, much less a to an older men’s audience since there are really no older men in the film except Doris’s brother. Younger men’s audiences may identify with John but, perhaps, not strongly.
Sally Field does her best, a character of pathos, then becoming exceedingly ditsy, and reminds us how she has been a top liner for practically 50 years – from Gidget to The Flying Nun to 2 Oscars and a strong screen presence.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
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